As I observe and participate in agriculture today, I see and sense changes underfoot. Agriculture is nothing if not adaptable, and the changes I see happening and/or coming: lowered energy availability, deeper blending of disparate elements into integrated systems, customer demand for ethical treatment of animals and for high quality, a meaningful return to harmony with the native/naturally occurring ecosystem, average people wishing to dabble in their own food production in urban landscapes, etc., etc…all of these imply a shift in the performance of the domesticated species, plant and animal, that we depend on for our sustenance. Not least, chickens.
The role, then, that I have taken up for myself, at nobody’s request, is that of genetic inventor, perhaps even genetic artist. The inventor in a society is the one who is out front of the industrious, making a way for them in the wilderness of unknown richness and opportunity that is our universe. The artist is even further beyond, imagining, manipulating, and playing, delighting or disturbing their fellows and expanding the possibilities in their minds and in our collective consciousness. In my work I hope to accomplish several things: I hope to get the ball rolling on some new breeds to serve some of the new agroecological niches I have observed emerging (I’m not the only one). I hope to show that ordinary people can solve their own dilemmas and modify their own environment to meet their needs with what is at hand. I hope to move my own family and our farm further toward true sustainability, natural harmony, and ecological participation. I hope to bring and inspire some measure of delight and imagination to my contemporaries. I hope to shed light on the power of human ingenuity—for good or ill—applied to the evolutionary process. I hope to help return us to our birthright as responsible members of the constantly unfolding, inextricably interconnected biological and energetic milieu that is life on this wondrous planet.
So what have I come up with so far, and where is this thing headed? Well, I have managed to pare it down to four distinct breeding projects, with the ambition to originate four distinct and new breeds of chicken. Each of them is intended for a specific role in contemporary small-scale agriculture, and is designed to respond and be adapted to a particular set of challenges and standards. I’ll describe them below:
Please be advised that this is only a current manifestation, and is subject to change without notice! I deeply welcome all feedback with regard to these ideas and our experiences, and even more deeply welcome your involvement either by trying out some birds or even hosting a breeder flock of one of the emerging breeds. Be in touch if you have any interest and I’ll be happy to help you discern which category of chicken might be right for your situation.
If you are interested in the history of my relationship with chickens, which goes a long ways back, you can read more here.